Actor Roger Smith, who starred in the series 77 Sunset Strip and was married to actress Ann-Margret, is dead. He was 84. Smith passed away Sunday morning at Sherman Oaks Hospital, reports variety.com. Smith retired from acting after being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 1980. After that, he managed his wife’s career and produced several of her TV specials. The couple had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 8.
On “77 Sunset Strip,” Smith played detective Jeff Spencer, who partnered with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as his partner. The show ran from 1958 to 1964, though he left in 1963. His Spencer character made appearances on other detective shows of the period including “Surfside 6” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
After “77 Sunset Strip” ended its run, Smith had the lead role in the comedy series “Mr. Roberts,” adapted from the movie about a World War II Navy lieutenant. He also appeared in movies including “Man of a Thousand Faces,” “No Time to Be Young” and “Auntie Mame.” Smith is survived by his wife and a daughter and two sons from his first marriage.
1960s were a difficult time for Smith. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in his brain in 1962, which forced him to exit 77 Sunset Strip for a time, and even upon his return, he and rest of the main cast were let go the following year. His divorce from Victoria Shaw was finalized in 1964, and his attempt to parlay the success of Sunset Strip into a television adaptation of Mister Roberts (1965) lasted only one season. After that, he made only two more acting appearances: Rogue’s Caper, and Criminal Affair, both of which were released in 1968.